Photo by Lidija Kamansky National Geographic likes Lidija Kamansky’s “Daybreak at Monument Valley.”

Photo by Lidija Kamansky
National Geographic likes Lidija Kamansky’s “Daybreak at Monument Valley.”

By Ashley Lodato

Winthrop resident and photographer Lidija Kamansky got some good exposure last week when National Geographic selected her “Daybreak at Monument Valley” photo as its “Favorite Landscape for Week 1” of their Nature Photographer of the Year competition. Lidija hasn’t (yet!) won the whole contest, but it’s pretty exciting that National Geographic is using her image to promote the contest across all digital media.

Most of you probably don’t know Lidija, although she and her husband, Mike, have been longtime valley visitors prior to their move here in June. Last January, the Kamanskys rented out their Issaquah home and hit the road on a journey that took them to California, through the American Southwest (where the photo was taken), to the Midwest, and then to Maine to help out on a blueberry farm belonging to a friend. Some 17,000 miles later, they arrived in the Methow Valley, convinced that there is no better place to call home because of its natural beauty and incredible community.

The Kamanskys have begun their Methow residency in true Methow style — living in their RV on their property. Lidija is coordinating the annual sixth-grade campout next week, which is certainly an intense way to throw oneself into Methow living! If you happen to run into Lidija or Mike, you can give them a hearty welcome to the valley. And to see more of Lidija’s images, visit her website at

Remember how a few weeks ago I gave credit to the Back Country Horsemen (BCH) of Washington for cutting downed trees on the Oval Lakes Trail? Well, although the BCH did clear quite a few trails in the Twisp River drainage earlier this summer (thank you very much), the Oval Lakes Trail was not one of them.

I got the real scoop from John Lester, who told me that he and seven other retired smokejumpers had hired Early Winters Outfitting to pack them in to the Oval Lakes area, but three days before the trip the trail was still choked with fallen logs. So Aaron Lee Burkhart and his crew went in and cut all those logs, so that they could get the jumpers and their gear into the lakes.

The trip happened just a couple of days before my trip in there — a trip that would have been very different had my party and our four kids had to climb over dozens of big trees.

John jumped for six years during the 1960s, was a longtime Winthrop business owner and one of the early advocates for Westernization, and now lives in Okanogan. So thanks, John, for the correction and thanks, Early Winters, for the clearing.


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